Monday, March 30, 2015

Sister-cousins and being four.

My mom, sister, nephew, and niece came to visit for the weekend.  I was looking forward to seeing them, but leading up the weekend, I had these moments of pangs.  All week, I'd ask Benjamin who was coming to visit and he'd shout, "AJ!"  His four-year-old cousin is his best buddy, and it's so fun to see.  But then he'd continue, "No Lane, no Lane, no Lane!"  He didn't want his girl cousin, who is 7 weeks older than him, to join.

It made me laugh and it made my heart hurt.  Because while I was ecstatic to be having a girl, my sister might have been more excited than me.   We would both have the older son, younger daughter combination.  And with our boys already best buddies, we had no doubt that our girls would be best buddies too.  Both of us thought we'd be done with two kids, so we said that although our sons wouldn't have brothers, they'd have each other and though our daughters wouldn't have sisters, they would have each other.  We called them sister-cousins.

I'll never forget my sister's screams when I called her, sitting on the exam table, to tell her that Lane's sister-cousin no longer had a heartbeat.

So leading into the weekend, I was excited to see them, but I was anxious too.  It's hard to watch the older brother, younger sister combination now, even when they're my nephew and niece.  It's hard to watch the boys play so well together, and wear their matching t-shirts.  I miss Lydia ALL the time, but sometimes my heart aches a bit more than other times.

Still, Benjamin had a blast with his cousins, and I felt more like my old self than I have in a long time. 

On Sunday, over lunch, AJ asked, "Why do you have a candle on your table?"
"We light it and think about Lydie," I told him.
"Because she's not here?"  he asked.  And then continued, "And she used to be in your belly... she died."
"That's right," I told him, my eyes watering.  "Because she's not here, and she used to be in my belly, but she died, and we miss her very much."
"Me too," he said.  "I want to see her!"

Me too, buddy, me too.

Then he promptly said, "I'm done!," got down from his chair, and went to play.

The mind of a four-year-old.

I wonder if these are the conversations we'll have with Ben when he has the words for them.

Thursday, March 26, 2015


I've mentioned before that I counted 8 or 9 friends and a cousin that were due with their babies within a month of Lydie's due date.  Including a couple who live in our neighborhood.  We met years ago through our dogs, and last spring, they busted me pushing around our new double stroller with Ben in one seat and garage sale finds in the other seat.  I'm pregnant, I admitted.  Three weeks later, they came over to tell us they were too were expecting a baby.  I was so excited, telling my friend how we could hang out during our maternity leave, how our doggie playdates could also become kid playdates, how our kids would grow up together and ride the school bus together and be in the same grade.

Of course, those 8 or 9 babies all arrived alive. Gratefully, I didn't really hear about their births.  Those friends didn't include me on their emails.  I don't go on facebook anymore.  I did get forwarded an email stating that my cousin's baby arrived.  I cursed and promptly deleted it.  (That seems to be my reaction quite often these days).  I didn't hear about our neighbors' baby... so I figured, she didn't die.

I don't want more babies to die.  But I don't particularly want them to live either.  And I definitely don't want to hear about it.

I had an emotional therapy session yesterday.  I told my therapist that all these happy families are a reminder to me that they got what I didn't.  They got what I was promised for 34 weeks.

Then I grabbed a couple tissues for the road and went to pick up my son from daycare.  As usual, I looked the other way when I walk past the infant room.  I avoided eye contact with other parents, especially the moms, and especially the pregnant moms.  I spend a lot of time looking at the floor.

Once we were home, Benjamin convinced me to go on a walk to the playground.  And luckily, no one else was there so we swung and did the slide and  the monkey bars until his dad got home, called to see where we were, and walked to meet us at the playground.  A few minutes later, we packed it in and started the trek home.  And then we saw our neighbors walking towards us, pushing their stroller with the infant carrier.  (Of course, I was pushing our stroller too, but the single one, not the double that's sits in our garage, untouched).

And I totally panicked.  I said to Justin, "I can't do this," and I swung Ben's stroller around and started sprinting in the other direction.

I totally ran away.

Justin kept walking into the fire.

I started hyperventilating. (And ironically, I had skipped my final night of meditation because Ben and I had stayed at the playground too late and it seemed too overwhelming to get us both home and fed and leave the house to drive 30 minutes to go sit and practice my breathing, but clearly, that's what I should have been doing at the moment).

Here I am, speedwalking away from my friends (who, for the record, totally saw me turn and run), pushing my son in his stroller, with wild tears flying out of my eyes, hyperventilating.

And then I passed the family the other neighbor mentioned - who had their 3 kids in a wagon and the mom about to pop with her 4th child.  I wanted to SCREAM.  I wanted to throw myself on the ground and pound my fists on the pavement and scream at the world.  I wanted to yell, "IT'S NOT FAIR!" (Instead, I started to sprint).

Why is that baby here and Lydie isn't?

I know there's never going to be an answer to that question.  I know some day, I have to find my peace with that.  I know I can't avoid people forever.  (But can I?  Maybe?)  I know at that moment in time, I did not have it in me to stop and talk to our neighbors, to see their baby, to ask her name.  I could not do it.

We finally got home and I curled up on the couch and sobbed more than I have in months.   And soon after we put Ben to bed, I went to bed myself.  Another avoidance mechanism I've been doing a lot of is sleeping.  The more time I can spend not thinking, the better.

Sunday, March 22, 2015


My aunt - the one whose son Michael died when he was five days old 16 years ago - has told me many times that grieving people are prickly.

And it's official.  I'm prickly.

I can say that I think Justin and I have become closer since our daughter's death.  And almost everyone else?  I'm distant.  I'm not friendly.  I don't ask about others.  I rarely reach out to friends and I sometimes don't respond when friends reach out to me.

But I know exactly who has said what to me.  I know who asks how we're doing, who uses Lydie's name, who tells us they have been thinking of us.  I know who remembers the 6th every month.

And when.  I know how long it's been since I've heard from each of my friends.  And I don't really excuse those people who haven't reached out to me since December.   I feel like it's their responsibility, as a friend, to be checking in on me frequently these days.

I know who sent flowers back in December, but hasn't said a damn word since.

I know which coworkers signed their names in sympathy cards, but never acknowledged my loss to my face.

So, I'm prickly AND I'm sensitive.

A couple of weeks ago, I got an email from an old friend.  It had been a long time since I had heard from her, since Lydie's memorial I believe.  I didn't want to be the first to reach out, but we are going to be in her city in a few weeks and I thought I should let her know in case we could meet up.   She wrote back and actually told that she hasn't been reading my blog because it hurts her to know how much I'm hurting.  Are you fucking kidding me?  I wanted to throw my phone across the room.

How nice to have the choice to distance yourself from someone else's pain.  From your friend's pain.

She then proceeded to tell me about her problems.

Right now, I don't have the emotional capacity for other people's problems.

Do you have a dead child?


Then I don't particularly want to hear about it.  I would trade my problems for your problems in an instant.

I probably shouldn't make my bitchiness so public.  I probably should pretend to be a nicer person than I am.

It just seems like people are expecting me back to normal 4 months later.   They expect me to empathize with them.  They expect me to consider other people's feelings.  And maybe the death of my daughter should expand my compassion.  But at this point in time, that is not what is happening.

The other day, I met with a student who hasn't been going to class or turning in work.  "What's going on?" I asked him.  He proceeded to tell me about how his roommate moved out and didn't even tell him and he thought they were friends.  I was waiting for the part that made him not attending class and not turning in work make sense.   He never got there.

And I felt my my urge to scream building up.  Instead,  I said to him, somewhat levelly, "My daughter died in November."

"I know," he responded. 

"And here I am at work.  Because this is where I need to be, because this is my responsibility," I told him.

I don't think it was my finest moment, professionally.

I realize that my grief is making me selfish.  I just have such little emotional energy right now.  And I don't have emotional energy to give away.

I recognize that people can't win with me.  That I hold it against them if they say nothing, but I hold it against them if they say the wrong thing too.  And I don't even know what I want them to say to me.  I don't even know what the right thing to say is, though I can identify lots of wrong things.

I can tell you that last weekend, when I told a neighbor that our daughter died, and he told me how our other neighbor is pregnant with her fourth child - that that was the WRONG thing to say.  And then he said even more wrong things, including how it's okay because we have Ben and it's okay because I'm good friends with another neighbor.

I realize he just had no idea what to say.  But he might have tried, "I'm so sorry.  That's terrible.  That must be really hard."  

And just when I'm starting to feel more comfortable getting out of the house.  He made me want to go back inside my Fortress of Solitude and never, ever come out.

But what I can say is that I have a handful of friends and family members who haven't let me down yet.   Who continue to hold me up and let me be selfish and give me their emotional energy.  And continue to let me know they love me, even when I'm prickly and selfish and sensitive.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

On Having a Daughter

I always wanted a daughter.

The reasons that I wanted a daughter aren't the typical ones.  I hate those baby headbands (what is the point of a headband when there isn't any hair?)  I don't like pink, especially not that light pink that is always used to represent baby girls.  It wasn't about the clothes. 

Wanting a daughter was always more about the relationship.  I'm close with my mom.  She pretty much knows everything. I wanted a daughter so I could create that same relationship, so that when I was 60, the phone would ring regularly.

It was about teaching my daughter to be strong, just like her mom and her Oma Jo and Great-Oma.  Teaching her to be independent and witty and adventurous.

In November 2012, at my anatomical scan, when I was 20 weeks pregnant with Benjamin, I tried not show my disappointment when they said, "It's a boy!"  Now, of course, I wouldn't trade my boy for anything in the world.

And when I was pregnant with Lydie for those first 19 weeks, I was convinced that she was a boy.  Convinced.    Dr. Birkenholz thought so too, saying last April, "I think it's a boy.  And that's very unprofessional for me to say."  But I laughed and told her I thought so too.  Ozzie the dog and Jimmie the cat are both boys, and it's been "Heather and the boys" for so long, that I just couldn't see that any differently.

But most of all, I wanted myself to be okay if that was the case.  A total defense mechanism.  And I knew how much I loved my boy, and I knew I'd love a second boy just as much.  I wanted to focus on that.   I wanted a girl so badly, that I prepared myself for a boy.

The day before our anatomical scan, Benji and I were leaving the grocery store, when we spotted a shiny red fire truck in the parking lot.  He was in awe.  And I thought to myself, "That is pretty cool." And I realized that I really would be okay in a house full of boys.  And maybe those boys would even call me when I was 60.  Just maybe.    

Me and Lydie, in our 19 week photo.  The chalkboard reads, "19 weeks.  BOY or GIRL?"
The next day, the ultrasound tech said, "You have a son at home?  He's having a sister!"  My jaw hit the floor.  I was in total shock.  And I truly didn't believe her.  I asked her if the penis was just hiding.  She shook her head.  I asked her to check again.  And again.  Finally, she seemed a bit insulted, saying, "I do this for a living, you know."  And Justin was giving me glances like, "Shut the hell up, Heather!"

I clutched my sonograms, with the one with "I'M A GIRL!" typed across it on the top of the pile.  When Dr. Birkenholz came into my exam room, I exclaimed, "They said it was a girl!  I'm not so sure."  I handed her the pictures and asked if they were missing something.  She laughed, and pointed to one, saying, "Heather, this is the labia."

Oh.  Oh!

And I was thrilled.  Ecstatic.

Justin said I should market my strategy, all about playing mind games with yourself to get what you really want.

It felt too good to be true.

I couldn't think of a better combination for siblings than older brother, younger sister.  Ben would look out for his sister, but teach her how to play in the mud.  She'd grow up trying to keep up with him.  He'd tease her, of course, but not let anyone else mess with her.  When she got older, she'd have crushes on his friends.  Only 20 months apart, they'd fight all the time of course, but they'd be close too.  Best friends and biggest allies when they were adults.

And of course, my daughter and I would be close too.  And I'd teach her how to be independent and witty and adventurous.  And she'd be a good athlete too... swimming, playing soccer, maybe she'd be a runner too.

That day, Ben and I went shopping to celebrate.  I bought this onesie and used it to announce our baby girl on Facebook and Instagram:
I pictured Lydie coming home in this onesie.

And even though I always thought it wasn't about the clothes, I was thrilled to look through them all, knowing I wasn't just buying good sales for my niece.  The boys' clothes were never as cute as the girls.  And although I hate that light pink, I was so excited to find cute girl clothes in green and blue.  Like this dress, that I bought for my daughter that very day:

After all, there was no reason I couldn't have the relationship AND the clothes.

Except we all know how this story ends up.

I have a daughter.  But I don't have the relationship I always dreamed of.  And I won't get to teach her how to be strong and independent and smart.  In fact, I struggle every day with how to parent her in her absence.

And she definitely won't be calling me when I'm 60.

Maybe I'll get the chance to have another daughter some day.  But I don't think I will.  Maybe it's me reverting back to my defense mechanism, my strategy that worked so well last time.  But I feel like Lydie was it for me.  Lydie gave me the promise of all those dreams.

I don't know what to do with those dreams now, just like I don't know what to do with the closet and dresser full of blue and green clothes.

Photo by Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Grief and the Uncertainty

I have concluded that for me, there are two parts to Lydie's death.

There's the grief.  You all know about the grief.  I expect to carry the grief with me for the rest of my life just as I'll carry the love I have for my daughter.

But there's also the uncertainty.  And this feels different from the grief.  I don't expect to carry the uncertainty forever.  Justin and I had all these plans for a family and until November, it seemed they were being realized: a couple kids, close in age.  It seemed like we were going to have it all: good jobs, a house in the suburbs with a fenced in backyard, a crazy dog, an obnoxious cat (the cat was Justin's college roommate, I'm not a fan), a son and a daughter.

And now, the uncertainty.

Part of me wonders if I'll always want to have one more child to fill the hole in our family.  If I'll always struggle with the incomplete family.  When, in reality, I know that no matter how many children we have in the future, we'll always have that hole.  Our family will always be incomplete.   We'll always be missing one.

But I also know I never wanted Ben to be an only child.  Only living child that is.  I always wanted at least two kids.  Living kids that is.

And hence, the uncertainty.

I wonder if five years down the line when I'm still grieving my daughter but the question "will we be able to have more (living, breathing) children?" has been answered, I might feel different. I might feel more at peace with the direction my life has taken.

When I was pregnant with Lydie, about to have my boy and my girl, I thought we'd be done.  I don't enjoy being pregnant.  I want to have a guest room.  I want to be able to pay for my kids' college and provide them with stable lives.  I thought man-to-man defense was probably the safest and I didn't especially want to have a middle child (as I have some severe middle-childhood-syndrome). 

And then our daughter died.
And I decided pretty quickly that we couldn't be done.  This couldn't be the end of our story.

And soon I started thinking about having more children.  Yes, plural.

This is the conversation that took place in our home:
"I want to tell you something, but I don't want to freak you out." - Heather
"Okay..." - Justin
"Lydie's death makes me want more kids.  Like not just one more.  Like two more." - Heather
"I want to tell you something, but I don't want to freak you out.... that doesn't freak me out." - Justin

It seems totally fucked up.  Instead of being done having kids like I thought I'd be at this point, my daughter is dead and ideally, I'd like to have two more.  But Lydie's death put things into perspective for me. All those reasons I thought we'd be done...  who cares?  Who cares about a guest room?

Lydie's death made me want more of the love.

But who knows?  Our family is living deep in grief and uncertainty.  We don't know if we'll be able to have one more living child, much less two.  And when my mind gets ahead of me, which it often does, I remind myself that there's no sense in making plans, since our plans clearly didn't work out.  I need to continue to take it one day at a time.

But I really hate the uncertainty.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

On looking for my daughter

Many people have given us angel ornaments for Lydie's tree and I love them, but I'm not one of those mamas who refers to my dead daughter as my "angel."  And I don't like when others refer to me as "an angel mommy."  I've tried to figure out my aversion to the angel concept.  First and foremost, I don't find it comforting.  It insinuates that Lydie is "in a better place" when I think the best place for her is home with her family.  It also insinuates that my daughter is taking care of me, when it is supposed to be the other way around.  I am supposed to take care of her.  I don't want my daughter to have so much responsibility.

So many other parents I've met through this journey find other signs from their children.  In the way of cardinals or bumblebees or hearts.

When I hear these stories, a part of me is jealous.   I want Lydie to communicate with me through cardinals or bumblebees or hearts! I want to communicate with her any way I can.

Other parents talk of how they can feel their children's presence.  And I wish, wish, wish, and hope I can feel Lydie.  And Lydie can feel me.  That when we light our candle every evening and each of us, including Benjamin, says, "I love you, Lydie," she's with us and can feel our love.  But I don't know.

The other night, cuddled up with Ben in his glider, reading bedtime stories, I glanced out his window.  A full moon and one bright, shining star.  Only one.  I pointed to it, and Ben became mesmerized.  "Think that's Lydie up there?" I asked Ben and Justin.

It's a nice concept.  It's a beautiful concept, actually.  And though I proposed the idea, I don't quite buy it.  I'm too practical, too much of a realist.  I scoff at myself.  I question.

One of my favorites of Lydie's ornaments, given to us from my best friend Kate's mom.  It reads, "Lydia... your star will shine down from heaven always."

It's like the dream I had about six weeks after Lydie died.
My uncle and godfather, who was 52 when he died from a sudden heart attack, was suddenly there.  All my aunts, uncles, and cousins are jostling each other, trying to see him, trying to talk to him, knowing full well that he is dead and should not be standing there.  I push my way through them all, and start yelling, "Uncle Mart!  Uncle Mart!"  I finally catch his attention, and he looks at me.  "My daughter?" I ask.  "She's there," he responds.

It was the most beautiful and comforting dream I've ever had in my life.  I woke up breathless and practically in tears.

And then I started to question it.  I wondered if I wanted so badly to believe that Lydie is in heaven that I asked for this dream, I ordered it up.  I wondered if I was reading too much into it.

And then I wondered why I couldn't just let it be what it was.  A dream that indicated that my daughter is in heaven.  A dream that brings me great comfort.

Why do I have to question it all so much?  Why can't I just look at a star, a bright shining star, the only one in the sky, and believe it is Lydie looking down on us?   Why can't I light her candle and feel her presence?  Why can't I talk to her and believe she hears me?

Why do I have to be such a goddamn cynic?

Practicality has always been a strength of mine and suddenly it feels like a huge burden.

In college, I worked as a physics tutor.  Physics makes sense to me.  Physics is practical.  Which is why I love this:

"According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you're just less orderly."

So according to physics, Lydie is out there, somewhere.

But where?

I told Lydie in the letter I read at her memorial that she's part of me.  She was part of me for 34 weeks, and she's part of me now.  I was pleased to read that I was correct:

It’s now known that cells from a developing fetus cross the placenta, allowing the baby’s DNA to become part of the mother’s body.  These fetal cells persist in a woman’s body into her old age. (If she has been pregnant with a male child it’s likely she’ll have some Y-chromosomes drifting around for a few decades too). This is true even if the baby she carried didn’t live to be born. The cells of that child stay with her, resonating in ways that mothers have known intuitively throughout time.

It takes the idea of my favorite poem, "i carry your heart" by e.e. cummings to a whole new level.  Lydie, I carry your heart, and I also carry your DNA.

Is that enough?

It doesn't feel like it.

So then what?  How can I stop being so freaking practical and start feeling my girl around me?  How can I find my signs?  How can embrace the idea that her spirit and energy surround me?  I am never going to call Lydie an angel, but can I find her in a bright, shining star?  And believe it?

"So when I need you can I send you a sign?  Light a candle and turn off the light, pick a star and watch you shine..." - Pink, Beam Me Up, on Lydie's playlist

Friday, March 6, 2015

When the tears stop coming

I've had this problem recently.
I haven't been able to cry.

We had support group on Tuesday night and I so looked forward to having a release, to letting the tears flow freely.  And they didn't come.

It amazes me (is there a verb that means amazes but in a bad way?) how desensitized I am.  I sit and listen to stories of other babies dying.  I don't cry.  I read countless stories about other babies dying.  I don't cry.  I talk about Lydie, I relive horrific moments.  I don't cry.

It seems lately, like I'm just sad.  I've become accustomed to just feeling this way, just this underlying sadness.

But sometimes I miss the acute pain.  I miss the gut-wrenching sobs.  I miss tearing up in my office throughout the day.

For a while, I've been avoiding the triggers that bring back the raw grief.  I don't listen to Lydie's playlist anymore, the songs I had on repeat in the early weeks and months.  I don't look at her photos.  When I catch myself thinking about what my life should be like right now, I instead remind myself that it is what it is.  I try not to think about it.

This morning, waking up on what should be Lydie's 4 month birthday, I had the song, "Tears in Heaven" playing in my mind. Which is weird, because I haven't listened to that song once since she died.  I have avoided it.  And yet, there it was, echoing through my mind as I became conscious.  I told you Lydie was always right there, forefront on my mind, whether I'm awake or asleep.

It was a better way to wake up than the jolt from than the very violent dreams I've had since she died.  Things like the doorbell ringing, and opening the front door to a dark stranger who stabs me repeatedly.  There's a lot of violence in my dreams lately, and I think it relates to the loss of control, the violence that happened inside my body and took away my daughter.   I think it relates to the anxiety and never knowing what's going to happen next.

This morning, I allowed myself to think about the parallel universe, where as Justin is heading to work, I'm changing Lydie's diaper and getting her dressed in one of her many adorable outfits.  And Ben's still in his pajamas while he eats breakfast.  And before Justin leaves, we prop Lydie up next to the chalkboard that reads "4 months" and we try to make her laugh for the camera. 

Except I never know how to count how old she should be.  Should I count from December 12, when she should have been born, alive?  Or from November 6, when she was born, still and silent?  5 weeks makes a big difference in a newborn baby.  In a year, it wouldn't matter.  But now, it does and it confuses the hell out of me.  Would she be 4 months or would she be 2 1/2 months?

And this morning, for once, I was grateful for my long commute.  For the first time in a long while, I listened to my Lydie playlist.  I heard the first beat of a song and I was in tears.  Hello, tears, welcome.  I have missed you.  I sobbed all the way to work, and when I got here, I closed my door.  Please leave me alone today.  I am here, but I am not really here.

I've heard from many others that anniversaries are hard, and I agree.  But I can't quite figure out why.  Today, I feel like I want a bad day, I need a bad day, and dammit, I'm going to let myself have it.  And in general, I feel like anniversaries affect me.  Is it psychological?  Most likely, but it feels physical too.   I hate Wednesdays, and unfortunately, Wednesdays come once a week.  But when a Wednesday resulted in the worst day of your life, it's hard not to hold that against all Wednesdays.

I imagine in a year, the 6th of every month won't pack the same punch.  It's just like how I took monthly photos of Ben on the 4th of every month.  I stopped doing that after a year.  But right now, Lydie's chalkboard reads 4.  

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Winter of my Grief

After dropping off Benjamin at daycare this morning, another mom said cheerfully to me, "Spring is coming!"

Oh shit.  Is it? 

I'm not sure my grief is ready for spring.

Lydie was to be a winter baby, due exactly one week before Christmas, but arriving via scheduled c-section, 6 days before that.  December 12th.  For eight months, I thought it was terrible timing.  Poor girl would have to share her birthday month with Christmas.  Poor mom and dad would have figure out presents 13 days apart and hope family would travel in for birthday parties that close to Christmas. 

Not to mention, having a newborn in the darkness of winter: how would we get out?   How often would we be able to leave the house?  How would we get fresh air?  How would this mama not go stir-crazy?

This mama had obviously not been through life-shattering events, considering these were the things she worried about.  

Instead, Lydie was born silently near the end of fall, one week after accompanying her big brother trick-or-treating, as he started out shy and then ended up running up people's driveways.  One neighbor gave me a piece of candy "for the baby." 

About two weeks after Lydie died, Justin and I asked each other, "Are we always going to be known as 'the people whose baby died' in our neighborhood?"  Before, we'd been known as the "people with the bad dog," since Ozzie had not only learned to scale our four foot fence, but caused two different neighbors to call the cops on him when he did so.  We heard a story of how neighbors referred to him "Kujo," making our house, "Kujo's house."  So embarrassing.

Soon after that conversation, Justin and I went outside to rake leaves.  It was a gorgeous day, sunny and warm, and we thought we'd cry outside instead of inside.  I hoped we wouldn't see neighbors, that people would leave us alone.

Not five minutes later, a woman I've never seen before charges through our yard, straight up to me.  Who the hell are you? I'm thinking, before realizing she was hugging me and I was completely recoiling.  I had just delivered my dead daughter, and I felt completely violated.  I didn't want anyone to touch me, not even my mom, and here's this woman I've never seen in my life, charging into my own yard, and hugging me without even telling me who the fuck she is.

So I guess that answered our question, yes, you will now be known as the neighbors whose baby died.

"I know how you feel, this happened to me," the stranger says.

"Your baby died?  You had to deliver your dead baby?" I ask.

"Well, no," she responds.  "But it happened to a friend of mine."  (I can't make this shit up).

I envisioned myself pushing her down to the ground and beating her with my rake.   Instead, I nodded silently, as she asked if she could bring us cookies sometime soon.

The woman actually hugged me again before finally getting the fuck out of my yard, and a few weeks later, I've never been so glad to welcome winter.  (And a side note: that woman, who apparently had heard our story from another neighbor, never did bring us cookies). 

Winter meant early darkness, cold temperatures, neighbors leaving me alone.

Winter is appropriate for grief. 

It has allowed me to hibernate, to put on my pajamas when I get home from work.  When I do want to get out, it has allowed me to take my son to the empty, snowy playground.  That same playground that is full of toddlers and parents with babies in the warmer months. 

I'm not sure I'm ready to come out of hibernation.  I'm not sure I'm ready for flowers blooming and cheerfulness and sunlight and moms pushing their babies in strollers.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Separating the love from the pain

I remember the moment I first saw Benjamin, how I didn't think it was possible to love another being as much as I loved that boy.  I expected to feel the same way the moment I first saw his little sister.  And of course, I did.  Except that love was completely intertwined with a horrific level of pain.

And since then, I find it extremely challenging to think of how much I love my daughter without thinking of how much my heart hurts.

That's why her photos are so hard to look at right now.  There's my perfect little dead baby.  There's no other situation where someone would frame photos of a loved one once they're dead.  But with a stillbirth, those photos are the only ones we have. 

Yes, they show love.  But the love is intertwined with all that pain.

This weekend, Justin and I framed pages of the book, Wherever You Go, My Love Will Find You, the book we read to Lydie three times, once we had found out her heart had stopped beating, while she was still inside me, then at the hospital while I cradled her, and then again at her memorial.

I want to look at this and focus on the love.
"In the green of the grass... in the smell of the sea... in the clouds floating by... at the top of a tree... in the sound crickets make at the end of the day... 'You are loved, you are loved, you are loved,' they all say."  - Nancy Tillman

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